Croydon Council is encouraging more residents to sign-up to a short accredited training course that will better enable them to support others in their community to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
The council is marking World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October, with a new film showcasing the experiences of some of the hundreds of residents who have already benefited from the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training it offers.
The MHFA course teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue – in a non-judgemental way. Anyone can attend the course, develop new skills and gain a qualification.
The course will give you the awareness to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues faced by your clients, customers, family, friends or passers-by. You will have more confidence and the practical skills to step in, reassure and support a person in distress.
You are not expected to be a professional counsellor by the end of the training, but MHFA will equip you with the tools to listen better, ask the right questions and develop trust to find out how someone is feeling. You will then be able to signpost them to further help and support that’s available if they need it, whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix.
Croydon Council’s MHFA training is fully-funded so anyone attending does not need to pay a fee. When you have completed the course, you will continue to be supported through regular network meetings where you can speak with course leaders and other trained mental health first aiders.
Councillor Janet Campbell, cabinet member for families, health and social care, said: “The impact and experience of the past 18 months has been different for everyone. Poor mental health can affect anyone at any time. Croydon Council has already enabled hundreds of our residents to be trained as mental health first aiders, to give them the skills to listen, support and intervene where needed, anyone in need of additional help. People who have attended the course have told me how the skills they have learnt have been a life-saver to people around them in some cases. This is why we need even more residents trained as mental health first aiders. The course is not the remedy, but it is an antidote and a tool to get support to more people in Croydon.”
In the film, Croydon resident Wayne Lindsay, co-founder of Project 4 Youth Empowerment, tells us about his experience of attending the council’s MHFA course: “A lot of the young people we work with have mental health issues, but mental health is not often spoken about. Also, us men, don’t have conversations around mental health as there still is a lot of stigma around it. I would encourage people from my community, especially men, to take the MHFA course. It’s fun and enjoyable and it will equip you to support yourself and the people around you. We often need to ask someone twice to find out if they are really okay. The course has helped me with those conversations, especially in the barbershop. We all need to be more open to get people the support they need.”
Phoebe Herschdorfer, Station Manager at Croydon Radio, also talks about the benefits of the MHFA course, “Many of us complete medical first aid training through our employers, so I felt it was really important to do this course to benefit our mental health. We do think that we already know how to support people who are struggling with a mental health issue, but when you are faced with someone in crisis, you often don’t have the right words or tools to be able to help them. The MHFA course has given me the knowledge and skills to build the trust to support those around me, and signpost them to get further help where needed.”
Find out more and sign up to Croydon Council’s Mental Health First Aid training at www.croydon.gov.uk/mentalhealthfirstaid